A Virginia judge’s decision to throw out a central plank of the health insurance reform law underscores how ill considered was the Obama plan.
Forcing people to buy coverage from costly, unreliable and often unscrupulous private insurance companies was, in fact, a coercive approach, as Judge Henry Hudson ruled. And it was one that the insurance companies loved, because they were guaranteed tens of millions of new customers whom they could gouge.
By ruling this approach unconstitutional, Hudson has set up a showdown at the Supreme Court, since other judges have ruled the mandate constitutional. It’s unclear how the Supremes will referee this one, but I wouldn’t bet the hospital that the conservative majority will uphold that part of the Obama law.
And if Roberts, Scalia, et. al., reject it, the Obama hope to limit health care costs would be dashed.
“Without the requirement that everyone be included, the risk pools are subject to adverse selection (only those with greater health care needs enroll),” says Dr. Don McCanne, senior health policy fellow at Physicians for a National Health Program. As a result, he says, premiums would “skyrocket.”
Rather than coercing everyone into the private insurance market, Obama should have proposed universal, comprehensive, and affordable health care, which is provided, as a right, to all citizens.
This Medicare For All program—or, at a minimum, Medicare For All Who Want It—would not have been the boondoggle to the private insurance companies that the current law is.
And it would have been impervious to court challenges.
“After almost half a century of success, only a fool would challenge the constitutionality of Medicare,” says Dr. McCanne.
There may be a couple of fools on the Supreme Court who would try. But it’s unlikely there would be five.
Obama chose, however, to maintain the system of private insurance. He imposed no federal limits on what insurance companies can charge, so they are already able to raise rates exorbitantly. And if “everybody in” is ruled unconstitutional, you can expect your rates to become totally unaffordable very soon, if they aren’t already.
At which point, the American public will have to rise up and demand what Obama should have given us already, and what other advanced countries already have: Medicare for All
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Why a Primary Challenge to Obama Is a Bad Idea."
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